Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival Announces Highlights of its 27th Edition in May 2023

  • TORONTO, Canada
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  • December 13, 2022

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Maggie Groat, strange attractors, fluid flows, butterfly effects, 2022. Courtesy of the artist


Toronto’s preeminent, annual month-long festival presents an outstanding roster of established and emerging North American and international lens-based artists

Toronto, Ontario, CanadaScotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival today announced highlights of the 27th edition of the annual citywide event spanning the month of May 2023. Canadian and international artists will present lens-based works in exhibitions, site-specific installations, and commissioned projects at museums, galleries, and public spaces across Toronto. Among these are CONTACT’s critically acclaimed Outdoor Installations—a central component of the Festival’s Core Program. Inaugurated in 2003 with four projects, this program of public artwork celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2023, with a number of guest curators participating in activating 19 sites throughout the city. The preliminary list of artists, documentary photographers, and photojournalists featured across the Core Program of gallery exhibitions and outdoor installations includes:

Celeste Pedri-Spade, Shirley's Tobacco Bag, 2014 (delica beads, brain tanned moose hide). Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Rebecca Bose

Farah Al Qasimi

Jawa El Khash

Anique Jordan

Celeste Pedri-Spade

Alia Ali


Robert Kautuk

Judith Price

Lara Almarcegui

Faadhi Fauzi

Jake Kimble

Racquel Rowe

Joi T. Arcand

Sybille Fendt

Maja Klaassens

Jayce Salloum

Nabil Azab

Christine Flynn

Long Time No See collective

Wayne Salmon

Ursula Biemann

Lindsey French

Meryl McMaster

Simon Shim-Sutcliffe

Catherine Blackburn

Karina Griffith

Pamila Matharu

Sunday School

Jean-François Bouchard

Maggie Groat

Caroline Mauxion

Rasa Smite

Ilze (Kavi) Briede

Grace Grothaus

Memory Work Collective

Raitis Smits

Mary Bunch

Malmouna Gueressi

Colin Miner

Wolfgang Tillmans

Robert Burley

Aziz Hazara

Esmaa Mohamoud

Jane Tingley

June Clark

Johanna Householder

Karabo Mooki

Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning

Lynne Cohen

Vid Ingelevics

Suzanne Morrissette

Ryan Walker

Marlene Creates

Jane Jin Kaisen

Joel Ong

Rodell Warner

Erika DeFreitas

Sarah Anne Johnson

Abdi Osman

Jin-Me Yoon

Bringing together the work of these artists from all over the world in presentations that highlight the seminal creative practices and issues of our time, the curators featured in the 2023 Festival further represent a multitude of voices, strategically expanding dialogue in new directions. Their critical perspectives help amplify the power of photography within public discourse. Participating 2023
curators include:

Sharona Adamowicz-Clements

Bahar Kamali

Lillian O’Brien Davis

Jutta Brendemühl

Parker Kay

Danica Pinteric

Chloë Catán

Sara Knelman

Kay Range

Emilie Croning

Jacqueline Kok 

Erin Reznick

Joséphine Denis

Andrea Kunard

Ryan Rice

Marina Dumont-Gauthier

Charlene K. Lau

Mark Sealy

Marianne Fenton

Emmy Lee Wall

Tara Smith

FPPCM Program Students

Scott McLeod

Ariel Smith

Carla Garnet

The Magenta Foundation –

Adrien Sun Hall

Anik Glaude

Toronto Pride Curatorial Team

Jane Tingley

Sophie Hackett

Memory Work Collective

Rinaldo Walcott

Nasrin Himada

Sarah Milroy

Freida Wang

Tarah Hogue

Gaëlle Morel

Dianna Witte

Tomas Josson

Musha Neluheni

Farah Yusuf

A number of Core Exhibitions and Outdoor Installations present photo/lens-based works by artists variously exploring Indigenous futures, decolonial practices, self-determination, family, the complexities of identity, human relationships to the land, climate concerns, time scales, and memory, among other critical subjects. Additional Core presentations feature Canadian and International artists also working in photography and mixed media to elicit, complicate, and expand conceptions of cultural identities and diaspora, activating historical archives and addressing their problematic gaps by creating new ones, and by creating new futures through visionary world building.

Meryl McMaster, Bring Me To This Place, 2017. Courtesy of the artist

CONTACT Executive Director Tara Smith said: “We look forward to working with these exceptional artists and curators, many of whom will create site-specific projects as part of our Core Program. The CONTACT team is also thrilled to welcome back many of our longstanding partners and sponsors who continue to support one of the world’s top photography festivals. Please check our website for further updates and mark your calendars for another dynamic photo-centric month in Toronto.”

Preview of selected CONTACT 2023 projects

Maggie Groat

CONTACT Gallery | 80 Spadina Ave, Ste 205

May 2 – June 17

Brookfield Place | 181 Bay St

May 1 – 31

Curated by Tara Smith

St. Catharines (Ontario)-based artist Maggie Groat will present newly commissioned work in a site-specific installation at Brookfield Place, and in a solo exhibition at CONTACT Gallery. Groat's current research surrounds states of becoming, decolonial ways of being, plants and gardens as portals, slowness, Indigenous Futurisms, the utility of images, and the transformative potentials of salvaged materials during times of climate emergency. Her methodologies are informed by states of being in-between, intuition, acts of care, site-specific responsiveness, strategies of collage, and hopeful speculation.

Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade, Catherine Blackburn

Critical Distance Centre for Curators | 401 Richmond St, Ste S-122

+ Billboard at Artscape Youngplace | 180 Shaw St

April 21 – June 3

Curated by Ariel Smith

How can photographs support personal and family histories? How can they act as the basis for social, political, and conceptual explorations of Indigenous identity when they are put through a process of materialization, transforming them into new art and cultural objects? A co-presentation by Native Women in the Arts and Critical Distance Centre for Curators, this exhibition engages the work of artists Joi T. Arcand, Celeste Pedri-Spade, and Catherine Blackburn, each of whom utilizes photography combined with textiles, adornment arts, and customary practices to examine themes of intergenerational memory, familial narrative, and decolonization.

Jake Kimble | Grow Up #1

Mural, 460 King St W, north façade

May 1 – June 30

Curated by Emmy Lee Wall, Capture Photography Festival

Jake Kimble’s practice combines humour and pathos in vulnerable, self-reflective images often featuring the artist engaged in acts of self-repair. Grow Up #1 is a photograph of the artist taken by his mother, overlaid with the text “I was told peace was mine to keep,” the statement of a promise unfulfilled or a burden to bear. The work reflects Kimble’s experience growing up in a chaotic household in which he felt the burden of adult responsibility. In the image he wears a cowboy hat, on his way to the Calgary stampede, complicating his identity as a Chipewyan (Dëne Sųłıné) child from Treaty 8 territory in the Northwest Territories, and subverting traditional dichotomies of “cowboys and Indians” and “parent and child” by playing both roles simultaneously. Presented in partnership with Capture Photography Festival.

Meryl McMaster | Bloodline

McMichael Canadian Art Collection | 10365 Islington Ave, Kleinburg, ON

February 4 – May 28

Curated by Sarah Milroy and Tarah Hogue

McMichael and Remai Modern present a survey exhibition of Canadian artist Meryl McMaster which looks back to her past accomplishments and presents her explorations of family histories, in particular her Plains Cree female forebears from the Red Pheasant Cree Nation. Family photographs, diaries, and historic accounts of the region and its colonial history contribute to this new suite of works, including two videos shot in Saskatchewan—the artist’s first time working with the medium. Themes include memory, erasure, diaspora, and self-determination, with past trauma filtered through McMaster’s creative imagination. Organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in partnership with Remai Modern.

Robert Kautuk | Up Front: Inuit Public Art at Onsite Gallery

Onsite Gallery | 199 Richmond St W (windows, exterior)

Opens April

Curated by Ryan Rice

The Inuit Art Foundation (IAF) and Onsite Gallery present Up Front: Inuit Public Art at Onsite Gallery, a new series of commissioned digital murals by Inuit artists. In this iteration, aerial photography by Robert Kautuk animates the gallery’s façade at street level, bringing his unique vision to downtown Toronto. Onsite Gallery recognizes the important contributions of the Inuit art sector and is pleased to work with the IAF to support Inuit art and artists in the public realm. The IAF empowers Inuit artists’ self-expression and self-determination through platforms including the Inuit Art Quarterly (IAQ), the IAQ Profiles, artist services, awards, scholarships, and mentorship opportunities.

Group exhibition | more-than-human

Onsite Gallery | 199 Richmond St W

Feb 1 – May 13

Curated by Jane Tingley

Opening Reception: Wednesday, Feb 1, 6–9pm

Artists: Ursula Biemann, Mary Bunch, Faadhi Fauzi & Ilze (Kavi) Briede, Lindsey French, Grace Grothaus, Suzanne Morissette, Joel Ong, Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits, Jane Tingley, Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning

Presented by Onsite Gallery, more-than-human features ten contemporary Canadian and international artists exploring human–natural relationships through technology to promote new ways of understanding the natural world. Curated by artist/researcher Jane Tingley (York University), the interactive and experiential artworks use digital media to challenge, excite, and shift our collective understanding of the more-than-human mind. Inspired by an ethics of inclusion that acknowledges the rights of nature through stewardship and care, the exhibition questions what it means to be alive and have agency, bringing together artists, Indigenous leaders, scholars, technologists, and scientists to build connections across diverse knowledge fields.

Sunday School | Feels Like Home

Art Gallery of Ontario | 317 Dundas St W

May 6, 2023 – May 2024

+  Billboards | Lansdowne & Dundas

May 1 – 31

Curated by Emilie Croning / Emilie Croning & Sunday School

Founded in 2017 in Toronto by creative director Josef Adamu, Sunday School is a creative agency that brings together photographers, videographers, stylists, and models from across Africa and the diaspora to create compelling visual stories. This two-part presentation—including an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario and on selected billboards in Toronto—will be Sunday School’s first major display in the city, while marking their sixth anniversary. Both parts of this presentation celebrate the agency’s collaborative ethos and the ways in which Sunday School is pushing the boundaries of storytelling, shedding light on notions of identity, fashion, and culture at the intersection of art and education.

Wolfgang Tillmans | To look without fear

Art Gallery of Ontario | 317 Dundas St W

Opens April 2023

Wolfgang Tillmans: To look without fear is the artist’s first major retrospective in Canada. Tillmans’ photography ranges from intimate observations to incisive commentary on the shape of our world today. This momentous exhibition will feature ecstatic images of nightlife, sensitive portraits, architectural studies, documents of social movements, still lifes, astronomical phenomena, and camera-less abstractions. The exhibition reveals the full breadth of Tillmans’ creative output to date, with photographs, video projections, sound installations, and his ongoing project Truth Study Center on display. Organized by Roxana Marcoci, The David Dechman Senior Curator, with Caitlin Ryan, Curatorial Assistant, and Phil Taylor, former Curatorial Assistant, Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, NY. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) presentation is organized by Sophie Hackett, Curator, Photography, AGO.

Farah Al Qasimi | Night Swimming

Davisville Subway Station platform | 1900 Yonge St

May 1 – 31

Curated by Sara Knelman

Working between the United Arab Emirates and New York, Farah Al Qasimi finds her collage-like compositions—dense with texture, pattern, and colour—in cityscapes around her, or creates them in her studio. Fragments of shop displays, luxury interiors, and street life weave together the complexities of cultural identity, gender roles, and consumer culture. Many of the images in Night Swimming were made after dark and reflect feelings of isolation or escape, with details often revealed or obscured by the omnipresence of mirrors, curtains, reflections, and screens.


Jin-me Yoon | Scotiabank Photography Award

The Image Centre | 33 Gould St | Main Gallery

Opens April 29

Curated by Gaëlle Morel

Composed of seminal series along with new works, the exhibition celebrates artist Jin-me Yoon’s lens-based art. Korean-born and based in Vancouver, Yoon reflects critically upon the construction of national and diasporic identities in relation to her personal experience and broader geopolitical contexts. The artist, winner of the 2022 Scotiabank Photography Award, repurposes visual stereotypes and dominant narratives to explore gender, culture, and citizenship in an accelerated, globalized era. Yoon’s work also reframes viewers’ understanding of some of the most pressing issues today, including the impacts of colonialism, militarization, displacement, and environmental devastation.

Pamila Matharu | SOME TOTAL

Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives (indoor + outdoor) |

9 Wellington St E, Brampton

April 29 – September 3

Curated by Sharona Adamowicz-Clements

Of Sikh Panjabi heritage, Toronto-based, interdisciplinary artist and winner of the Burtynsky Photobook Grant (2020) Pamila Matharu continues their decade-long inquiry into identifying the marginalized and racialized voices in the arts, the creative practitioners excluded from the artistic canon as women of colour. Leveraging feminist strategies and decolonial aesthetics, Matharu draws on their own and their peers’ work, and their collection of archival material, to create a collaborative platform for all. SOME TOTAL comprises an indoor multimedia component and an outdoor photographic banner presented on the building’s façade.

Group Exhibition | BLACK (Cite)

Gallery TPW | 170 St. Helens Ave

Apr 20 – Jun 24

Curated by Rinaldo Walcott

Artists: Karina Griffith, Abdi Osman,
Racquel Rowe, Wayne Salmon

Too often Black art is understood solely through the lenses of identity, representation, and belonging. The works in BLACK (Cite) exceed these readings through citation, formalism, and abstraction. Exemplifying Black aesthetic traditions of art-making in documentary, collage, and abstract practices, the artists featured employ modes of working including poetic meditation on the sea and water, documentation of everyday Black life, performing Black living, and commenting on sexuality and gender and their pleasures. The exhibition places these Canadian artists’ work in dialogue with broader diasporic conversations, while calling to mind the work of Black artists in the art-historical canon.

Group Exhibition | Joy. Sorrow. Anger. Love. PRIDE

Multiple venues (TBA)

Opens May

Curated by The Magenta Foundation Toronto Pride Curatorial Team

Joy. Sorrow. Anger. Love. PRIDE is Toronto Pride’s first exhibition and publication, to be launched in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of The ArQuives—Canada’s only LGBTQ2+ archive with a national scope. The exhibition and publication will be amplified through curators’ talks and panel discussions and will feature enlarged archival photographs, print media, and ephemera carefully selected from among the ArQuives’ holdings and from a public call for submissions. Focused on Toronto Pride from 1970 to the present day, this comprehensive research project will kick off the 2023 Pride Season. Presented by The Magenta Foundation in partnership with The ArQuives: Canada's LGBTQ2+ Archives, and Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

In 2023, the long-awaited CONTACT Photobook Fair makes its return, hosting independent publishers and leading contemporary photographers, designers, and artists from around the world, offering renowned titles and recent releases, and featuring the most compelling Canadian and international photobooks of our time. Hosted at Stephen Bulger Gallery April 29–30, this unique event fosters opportunities for enthusiasts to build connections, discover new projects, and exchange ideas on books and photography.

Preliminary List of Festival Partners

CONTACT’s 2023 Core Program of Exhibitions and Outdoor Installations are developed through collaborations with partners across Toronto, including: A Space Gallery; Alliance Française; Aga Khan Museum + Park; Allied Properties; The ArQuives; Arsenal Contemporary Art Toronto; Art Gallery of Ontario; The Art Museum at the University of Toronto; Artspace Gallery; BAND Gallery; The Bentway Conservancy; Blackwood Gallery; Brookfield Place; City of Toronto; Cooper Cole; Corkin Gallery; Critical Distance Centre for Curators; Daniel Faria Gallery; Dianna Witte Gallery; Evergreen Brick Works; Gallery 44; Gallery TPW; Goethe-Institut Toronto; Harbour Square Park; The Image Centre; John B. Aird Gallery; Joys Gallery; MKG127; McMichael Canadian Art Collection; The Magenta Foundation; Mercer Union; National Gallery of Canada; Olga Korper Gallery; Onsite Gallery; Pattison Outdoor Advertising; Patel Brown; Paul Petro Contemporary Art; Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives; the plumb; The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery; Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art; Pumice Raft; Stephen Bulger Gallery; Towards Gallery; Trinity Square Video; United Contemporary; Varley Art Gallery of Markham; Waterfront Toronto; The Westin Harbour Castle Conference Centre; and Zalucky Contemporary. Additional partners will be announced in the coming months. 

CONTACT gratefully acknowledges the support of Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, The City of Toronto, Destination Toronto, Istituto Italiano di Cultura, La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, and all funders, donors, and program partners.

About Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

CONTACT fosters and celebrates the art and profession of photography with its annual Festival across greater Toronto in May and year-round programming in the CONTACT Gallery. CONTACT presents lens-based works by acclaimed and emerging artists, documentary photographers, and photojournalists from Canada and around the world. The curated program of Core Exhibitions and site-specific Core Outdoor Installations featuring works by local and international artists, presented in collaboration with major museums, galleries, and artist-run centers, are the heart of the Festival. These are cultivated through partnerships, commissions, and new discoveries, framing the cultural, social, and political events of our times. CONTACT presents a wide range of programs including a book fair, lectures, talks, panels, workshops, and symposia during the Festival. Please check the CONTACT website for updates.

CONTACT, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1997, is generously supported by its title sponsor Scotiabank, and Scotia Wealth Management, as well as 3M Canada, Beyond Digital Imaging, BIG Digital, Four By Eight Signs, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, Toronto Image Works, The Gilder, Transcontinental PLM, and Waddington's Auctioneers and Appraisers.

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Libby Mark or Heather Meltzer
Bow Bridge Communications
+1 647-544-8441, New York City, +1 917-968-5567

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
80 Spadina Ave
Suite 205
Toronto, Canada
416 539 9595

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